Social Distancing: Yes We Can! (But some things, I can’t do)

I hope everyone’s getting well acquainted with their Wi-Fi speeds and their spouse’s work-from-home habits. I’m sure neither leave anything to be desired.

We’ve been home since Friday when I returned from Charlotte and realized this was serious, not “Wash your hands and be mindful” serious but, “Stay home and be serious” serious. So, we’ve been home.

I’ve seen lots of inspirational posts about what Isaac Newton did during the plague. I know there are lots of ways I could use this mandatory “slow down” time effectively to spur creativity, think broadly, perhaps get healthier, and on and on. I’ve decided, for my own well-being, that I can only do one day at a time. One day, I can have a terrific day with exercise and boundaries and real pants and a shower. But if I don’t do exactly the same thing the next day, that’s okay. Routine is incredibly helpful to my mental health. Nothing about this pandemic is routine. I am not going to let my inner curmudgeon judge me for how well I stick to a routine or not.

I am going to also ignore my inner curmudgeon and do this: Share a list of “cans and can’ts” I learn over the next few (many?) weeks of extreme social distancing. I think it will be amusing, perhaps educational, hopefully thought-provoking. As I’ve been reading posts about panic shopping and pasta sales, I’ve repeatedly asked, “Do people only know how to boil water?” I expect yes, that is true. What is it that I don’t know how to do that will become evident while I’m staying* inside?

March 15

  • Can: Trust my team in Kannapolis to make really good decisions
  • Can: Stay up until 2:30 a.m. still (although this time it was while binge watching Outlander rather than partying because #ThisIs30 and #SocialDistancing)
  • Can’t: Trust myself to make good decisions when historical fiction and fantasy are involved (see: Poldark obsession, 2:30 a.m. Outlander watching, etc).

March 16

  • Can: Make empanadas (thanks to Smitten Kitchen for the crust recipe and the inspiration for the filling, thanks to Giant for only selling Mexican Chorizo to complement my Kenji Lopez pork leftovers)
  • Can’t: Make pretty empanadas. I know why they’re at least $4 apiece at farmers markets.

March 17

  • Can: Focus better on conference calls while walking than when sitting at a computer.
  • Can’t: Sit in front of a computer and not surf (even if supposed to be listening to a call. All college professors know this, which is why I now respect the many “no laptop” policy professors way more now than I did in college).
  • Can’t: Cut my own hair. I am starting to worry about this.

March 18

  • Can: Stay in touch with friends and family over the phone and FaceTime. This is awesome, and I’m starting to wonder why I haven’t been picking up the phone to call people as frequently forever.
  • Can’t: Do an ab workout on my basement floor, apparently. Why do I have such a strong resistance to this?? I realize I’ve been paying for a gym membership for more than a decade to use a floor mat and 10-pound weights, and the peace of mind of not being on your basement floor looking at the dust thinking, “Why am I doing sit-ups when I should be vacuuming?”

March 24

  • Can: Lose an entire week doing, seemingly, nothing. In conference calls and mini panic attacks and fretting about things I can’t control and reading books and drinking more wine than I should and starting to run again and living, albeit in one place, with one person and one dog.
  • Can’t: Make french fries. I really, really want French Fries.

March 27

  • Can: Make a martini just as good as my favorite bartender’s (looking at you, Billy at Martin’s Tavern).
  • Can’t: Make idle conversation at a bar with a stranger and lose myself talking about the weather or Georgetown University or someone’s upcoming nuptials.

March 28

  • Can: Make a mean red curry vegetable soup.
  • Can’t: Take my mom seriously on a Zoom call. My new shelter-at-home goal is to remotely get my parents to understand the beauty of a makeshift Tripod for their iPad.

March 29

  • Can: Make really, really good bread! You’ll need yeast, but no effort, thanks to this magical recipe from Pinch of Yum.
  • Can’t: Eat just one slice of bread, when fresh bread is in front of me.

March 30

  • Can: Work out with my best friend, even during stay-at-home, even though she lives across the ocean! Isn’t FaceTime a treat (to use only with people you’ve known for more than half your life, who have seen you hundreds of times “at your worst.” Not, like, your boss or colleagues who see you and should only know the hair-brushed, respectably dressed version of you).
  • Can’t: Avoid the post-news conference panic spiral when more stay-at-home and dire warnings make you worry about your loved ones, yourself, your finances, your house, your everything.

*Note: I am trying to use the phrase “staying inside” rather than “stuck inside,” because I feel better thinking of this as a choice to do the right thing.

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Alicia Amling View All →

Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.

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